Interim Senior Vice President and Provost Melody Tankersley sent an email to Kent State faculty and staff on Tuesday, explaining more details regarding the return to campus in the fall.
Upon approval from their academic unit administrators, faculty members can return to their office beginning June 22. Administrators will ensure face coverings, cleaning supplies and signage are available for faculty.
Beginning to return June 22 gives everyone a sufficient amount of time to develop a plan and make sure all resources are in place to create a safe work environment. Each faculty member planning to return must sign a statement stating that they understand and agree to follow the guidelines before returning.
While summer sessions I and II will continue to be delivered through remote instruction, the majority of summer III courses will be through remote instruction, but a few will be offered in-person. Administrators will work with faculty who have summer III courses that could be potentially offered in-person to decide the best delivery method.
A survey taken by 650 faculty members showed that 40 percent of faculty prefer to teach on campus, while 54 percent prefer to teach remotely. Six percent reported no preference.
Based on spaces discovered on-campus that can accommodate physical distancing guidelines, 25 percent of courses will be able to be taught in-person. Currently, other spaces are being identified to allow for more classes to be held in person.
“We estimate that the majority of our classes will need to be delivered through remote instruction,” the email stated.
All classes of 50 or more registered students must be taught remotely. While the social distancing guidelines stay in place, even the largest classrooms will not be able to accommodate classes over 50 people.
Currently, there are 1,447 sections of 532 different courses identified that will meet completely or partially in person. Working with the University Registrar, the goal is to ensure each class will have the appropriate classroom to offer in-person classes.
Once these classes have been accommodated, classes that will benefit from being in-person will be scheduled for in the appropriate classroom.
As it is possible that the university could be called to move to fully remote instruction again in the fall, faculty should be prepared to transition to remote instruction at any point in the semester.
As planned, fall semester classes will begin on Thursday, Aug. 27. To reduce the potential spread of the virus, fall break has been canceled. While fall break was created to allow students time to catch up and take care of themselves during midterms due to the stress of the semester, the university will enhance the student mental health services during this time and throughout the fall semester.
Thanksgiving break will also extend to include the entire week of Nov. 23. Students will leave campus the weekend prior and not return for the rest of the semester. All classes will be conducted remotely for the remainder of the semester, including final exams which begin Dec. 14.
The university is also working to equip classrooms with technology for faculty members to use throughout the semester to deliver instruction in ways that benefit both students and faculty, whether remote or in-person.
This technology will help pre-record lectures and deliver live instruction to both in-person and remote students. This will allow for faculty to have flexibility around the class structure. The ultimate goal is to ensure all faculty that would like to use the technology will have access to it.
As the university still does not have all the answers to questions regarding the function of the fall semester, the Reopening Committees are continuing to work to provide updates as the fall semester approaches.